Skip to content

Revisiting the Chris Wondolowski argument, now in a bigger and better context

Jul 22, 2013, 5:10 PM EDT

United States v Costa Rica - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

The book on Chris Wondolowski has usually read like this: sensational striker in league play who may be stretched to make an impact internationally.

It’s really not an awful thing to pin on someone; nobody is accusing the man of drowning kittens here. Taylor Twellman and Jason Kries were other examples of terrific strikers in Major League Soccer who probably reached their top level in league soccer.

Only, with Wondolowski, a few fans and a selected bunch from the chattering class got caught up in the moment and lost some larger context recently. The Earthquakes’ forward did hit six goals in three matches – but the quality of competition was league level. Given international caliber service and backed by international level teammates, Wondolowski is certainly capable of doing the business against overmatched regional small fries.

But it always looked like typical sports overreaction, this flawed tendency to make big, sweeping judgments from every match. (Or, in this case, the false bottom of a short series of them.)

So a week ago, some people were already handing him a ticket to Brazil. Very prematurely so. I wrote as much six days ago.

Now here we are today with two more samples to study. Wondolowski went 77 minutes last week against Costa Rica and then 60 on Sunday against El Salvador. Total goals: zero.

(MORE: What we learned about the United States vs. El Salvador)

He wasn’t awful, not by any stretch. “Wondo” is just not the difference maker that Landon Donovan is. He’s not the athlete that Eddie Johnson is. He doesn’t have the ability to create on his own the way some others in the U.S. player pool can. Wondolowski’s game gets somewhat limited at international level.

Here’s what MLSSoccer.com’s player ratings had to say: “One simple assist pass aside, Wondo was often either stranding himself from the offense or slowing it down. It didn’t help his cause that Eddie Johnson replaced him with such a strong display.”

The New York Times was more harsh still in its ratings. “Never seemed to find a place in the quick-moving U.S. attack.”  Jeff Carlisle at ESPN FC did like the striker’s link-up play, offering that is “was miles better than it was against Costa Rica, as he set up Corona’s goal and sprung Donovan with a telling through ball.” But he also noted the struggle “with some of El Salvador’s physical antics.”

It’s not over; two matches remain. The problem is Johnson, the Seattle Sounders’ striker scored immediately upon coming on Sunday. He seems certain to start in Wednesday’s semifinal, which means the San Jose man’s minutes will dwindle fast.

As I also wrote last week, roster spots are always a zero-sum game; for every roster winner there is a roster loser, in other words. Wondolowski may or may not make the final 23 for Brazil, but you have to circle the man you want knocked aside.

Jurgen Klinsmann pattern of player selection says that Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson are all ahead of Wondolowski in the forward depth  pool. (Depending on how you want to count Dempsey, that is.) Landon Donovan is, too; we can probably all agree on that.

Today, Joe Corona looks more likely to make the roster than Wondolowski, even if he is  playing a slightly different position. Either way, it’s a roster spot, and that’s one more obstacle in a very good forward’s path to Brazil.

Latest Posts
  1. Manchester United to sign Toni Kroos? Think again

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:58 AM EDT

    Toni Kroos, Pierre-Michel Lasogga AP

    Kroos’ camp say he won’t move on until 2015, as Bayern and United scrap over German star.

  2. Manchester City the best paid team in sport, beat New York Yankees to accolade

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

    Manchester City's Belgian captain Vincen

    The top 10 best paid sports teams in the world revealed. Find out who pays the most, right here:

  3. CONCACAF Champions League: Toluca escapes Estadio Azul with 0-0, opening leg draw

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

    marco_fabian AP

    Mexico’s top two teams reach halftime of their two-legged final, with leg two kickoff next Wednesday in Toluca.

  4. PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Week 6

    Apr 15, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT

    javier_morales_kyle_beckerman AP

    The top four remain unchanged, while Houston, New England, and Portland make big shifts on this week’s chart.

  5. Video: Remembering the Hillsborough disaster, 25 years later

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT

    anfield AP

    Thoughts from NBCSN’s analysts as will as footage from Rodgers’, Martínez’s speeches at Anfield.

  6. ProSoccerTalk MLS Team of the Week – Week 6

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT

    federico_higuain AP

    Three LA Galaxy players join two members of the Columbus Crew in our Best XI.

  7. Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can finish in the top four

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

    Gunners go back into the top four, but can they hold off Everton?

  8. Survey: Ronaldo, Messi, Ibrahimovic among top five highest paid athletes in the world

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

    Will Ronaldo win his first-ever Champions League title with Real Madrid this season? AP

    Four soccer players rank amount the world’s top 25 earners.

  9. Crimes and Misdemeanors: Giancarlo Gonzalez’s dive draws MLS’s attention

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT

    eddie_johnson_giancarlo_gonzalez AP

    Columbus’s Costa Rican international is the latest player to donate to MLS Works.

  10. Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United: Podolski double puts Gunners back in the win column (video)

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    lukas_podolski Getty Images

    The Gunners overcame a Matt Jarvis opener to take their second win of the season from the Irons.

  11. Report: Tottenham Hotspur want Jurgen Klopp as new boss

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Borussia Dortmund's coach Klopp waves to supporters at the end of their Champions League quarter final first leg soccer match against Malaga in Malaga

    Klopp to take over at White Hart Lane?

  12. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Clint Dempsey

    Apr 15, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT

    Dempsey's six goals in four games (three starts) are tops in Major League Soccer, putting him one ahead of Chivas USA's Erick Torres. (Credit: AP Photos) AP

    Last week’s hat trick couldn’t snare our honor, but two goals in Dallas made the Sounder star this week’s best player.

  13. Soccer helping to bring together Syrian children in refugee camp

    Apr 15, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT

    Photothek Getty Images

    A story from The Daily Beast deals with many obstacles faced by the girls, including some prevailing belief that they shouldn’t even watch sport, let alone play soccer.

  14. Watch Live: Arsenal vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 15, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

    Wojciech Szczesny AP

    The Gunners and Hammers are putting some London derby bragging rights on the line this evening at the Emirates Stadium live on NBCSN and online NBC Sports Live Extra

  15. Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. West Ham United

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    West Ham United v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    West Ham last took a point from Arsenal in an October 2009 draw, and hasn’t beaten the Gunners since an April 7, 2007 win at the Emirates.

  16. On anniversary of Boston Marathon attack, video details Reis’ heroics

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

    Columbus Crew v New England Revolution Getty Images

    MLSSoccer.com’s “MLS Insider” series brings a strong video on the anniversary of Matt Reis’ heroics at the Boston Marathon bombing.

  17. WATCH: Roberto Martinez’s stirring speech at Hillsborough memorial

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    His speech was equal parts soccer fan, Merseyside resident and fixture in the game.

  18. Inter Milan player produces a historically-scummy bit of gamesmanship

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

    UC Sampdoria v FC Internazionale Milano - Serie A Getty Images

    Let’s say you’re dating your ex-teammate’s ex-wife and spend a lot of time with his kids. What’s a super scummy idea before your team plays his?

Featured video

Week 34: Weekend Recap